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Mt. Tabor reservoirs no longer providing water

PORTLAND TRIBUNE PHOTO: JONATHAN HOUSE - Water Bureau Chief Engineer Teresa Elliot explains have Reservoir 5 in Mount Tabor has been disconnected from the city's water distribution system to comply with US Environmental Protection Agency rules.The three reservoirs in Mount Tabor are now longer providing water to customers.

The disconnection work fulfills a commitment from the City Council to the US Environmental Protection Agency to stop supplying open reservoir water to by the end the year.

Although the commitment is controversial, the disconnection work in Mount Tabor has not been met with protests. In part that is because the Water Bureau and the Mt. Tabor Neighborhood Association struck a deal for the city to maintain the historic appearance of the reservoirs and restore them to their original conditions.

As part of the deal, the council has agreed to spent $4 million over the next five years to restore the reservoirs. The water bureau will seek $750,000 in next year's budget to contract with a historic preservation consultant to draw up a restoration plan, which will require construction and land use permits.

The agreement between the water bureau and the neighborhood association was approved by the council in July. In marked the end of a long running battle between the council and neighborhood activists over the future of the reservoir. The EPA has adopted rules requiring that all open reservoirs be covered or disconnected from water distribution systems for health reasons.

The council has said it must comply with the rules, although activists note there have never been any health problems linked to Portland's reservoirs and ratepayers must pay hundreds of millions of dollar to comply.

As part of the transition, the council authorized the construction of a new underground water storage tank in Powell Butte. It went online in September 2014.